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Fantasy Hockey Cheat Sheet: Top DraftKings NHL DFS Picks, Lineup Strategy for April 18

Geoff Ulrich gives his top NHL picks and lineup advice for Sunday’s fantasy hockey slate on DraftKings, which starts at 3:00 p.m. ET.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday features a five-game main NHL slate starting at 3:00 p.m. ET on DraftKings. In this article, you will find DFS advice for DraftKings lineups, plus some DraftKings Sportsbook bets to target.


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DraftKings Sportsbook

Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Islanders under 5.5 goals (-103)

The Islanders and Flyers meet for the eighth time tonight on the season. The last three games between these two teams have seen five goals or less scored and the Isles enter this game averaging just 1.71 goals scored in their past seven starts. Philly may have trouble keeping the puck out of their own net, but their games have still managed to total five goals or less in six of their past 12 appearances. The under here has lots of appeal today.

Victor Olofsson over 2.5 SOG (+120)

Olofsson enters this game averaging 2.6 SOG over his past 10 games and is getting plenty of ice time now after the Sabres traded away their best winger at the deadline. Trusting Olofsson for a goal seems like a bridge too far, but his over prop in the SOG department is at very solid plus-money odds considering the ice time he’s getting and how busy he is with his shot. It’s a good market and price to chase his over prop in today.


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Top Line Stacks

Toronto Maple Leafs at Vancouver Canucks

John Tavares ($6,700) — Mitchell Marner ($7,800) — Alex Galchenyuk ($3,500)

The Leafs take on the Canucks today in Vancouver after the Canucks had to endure a lengthy COVID-19 induced layoff. The Canucks were a poor defensive team before their season was paused, but now that the team has been ravaged by illness and hasn’t skated competitively in weeks, this doesn’t seem like a fair fight anymore. Toronto enters as massive -286 favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook, and would likely be even bigger favorites if Auston Matthews (questionable; $9,100) was healthy. Matthews could easily sit here considering the opponent and that would open up great value with John Taveres, who managed 25.3 DKFP the last time Matthews was out.

Regardless of who centers the top line, there’s also good value lurking in this top trio with Alex Galchenyuk ($3,500) now skating in the top six. The winger has averaged over 17 minutes per game over his past four starts and is taking a regular shift on both the top line and PP1 for Toronto right now. The Canucks allow the most SOG against in the league and have the 13th-worst penalty kill, so a big night could be in store for all here. Watch the lineup news up until lock, but stacking this line is a great idea against the hard-luck Canucks.


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Superstar to Target

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres ($8,100)

We have the cream of the crop in terms of matchups tonight to choose from for our studs with Buffalo, Anaheim and New Jersey on the schedule. Despite recording just 6.5 DKFP in his first matchup with Buffalo two games ago, Crosby remains the target here for me. The center is now well over a point per game pace on the season and comes in averaging 13.7 DKFP over his past 10 games, despite the poor game versus the Sabres.

The Penguins’ first line enters this game as the third-most productive in the league in terms of pure goals scored and Pittsburgh has some reinforcements on the power play now as well with Jeff Carter ($4,900) in the lineup. Buffalo has played better of late but it’s all relative, as the Sabres have given up the ninth-most scoring chances on the year and the third-most SOG per game. Banking on a big bounce back from Crosby is the right call for fantasy purposes here.


Set your DraftKings fantasy hockey lineups here: NHL $30K Kick Save [$10K to 1st]


Value on Offense

Tage Thompson, Buffalo Sabres vs. Pittsburgh Penguins ($3,400)

Thompson’s been a big part of the Sabres looking respectable over their past few outings as the winger now has two goals in each of his past two games. He’s not just scoring either as the 23-year-old is averaging 3.0 SOG over his past 10 starts and has hit 11.0 or more DKFP now in five of his seven games. Expect Thompson to keep getting opportunities down the stretch with his current level of production also making him a great value target at these low prices on DraftKings.

Reilly Smith, Vegas Golden Knights at Anaheim Ducks ($3,900)

Smith is the prototypical boom-or-bust type of target for daily fantasy purposes as the winger is just as likely to grab you zero points as he is multiple goals. His line didn’t score, but they were buzzing against Anaheim in their last game with Smith himself landing six SOG. He had multiple goals against another weak opponent a couple of weeks ago in the Coyotes and has another great matchup here against Buffalo. He makes for a nice value in GPPs where you can pair him with Jonathan Marchessault ($5,800) for the complete upside mini-stack.


Stud Goalies

Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs at Vancouver Canucks ($8,200)

Considering the circumstances, Campbell feels like he should be about $500 more expensive here. The Toronto netminder enters this game off of a couple of bad appearances but is still 8-2 on the season with a .922 save percentage. The Leafs are massive favorites here — the biggest on the slate by far — and the Canucks’ offense is coming off a monster layoff and is still without one of their best players in Elias Pettersson. It feels too easy, but paying up for Campbell here should be your main priority in goal for any cash or core lineups today on DraftKings.


Value on Defense

Rasmus Dahlin, Buffalo Sabres vs. Pittsburgh Penguins ($3,400)

The Sabres’ first-overall pick from a few years back has started to come on a bit of late for them as he enters this game against the Penguins with six real-life points in his past 10 games. His upside is obviously hamstrung by being on such a bad offensive team, but Dahlin has produced for them in that regard with nine of his 18 points coming on the power play. The Penguins aren’t exactly special teams aces either, as they have the seventh-worst penalty kill in the league, which gives Dahlin a better shot at landing on the scoresheet here. Trust is perhaps too strong a word, but you can certainly be cautiously optimistic about Dahlin, especially given how little salary cap he’ll be taking up.


Power-Play Defensemen

Shea Theodore, Vegas Golden Knights at Anaheim Ducks ($6,100)

Theodore is a in great spot to take advantage of a weak opponent, which also just happens to be his former team. The multi-talented defenseman stacked up five SOG against Anaheim in the first game of this current series, a byproduct of being placed back on main power-play duties. The Golden Knights had been giving more time to Alex Pietrangelo ($6,400), but the split in ice time was essentially even between their big studs in the first game against Anaheim. Theodore is averaging a hefty 3.9 SOG over his past 10 starts and 12.4 DKFP over that span, too. Considering how weak Anaheim is at limiting scoring chances (most allowed in the league) Theodore makes for a great pay-up option in this spot today.

Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders at Philadelphia Flyers ($5,000)

Pulock often gets underappreciated in fantasy, but the defenseman is averaging 10.3 DKFP over his past 10 starts despite scoring just three points over that span. He gets a terrific matchup here against the Flyers who have terrible special teams, including the second-worst penalty kill in the league. Pulock can produce a nice floor game given his blocked shot rate (2.2 per game over his past 10 starts), but you could see him tap his underrated offensive upside here as well in this great matchup.

Set your DraftKings fantasy hockey lineups here: NHL $30K Kick Save [$10K to 1st]


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.